• Laurence H. Tribe: A man with a mission, but not much of a budget Thursday, April 8, 2010

    Since we’re concerned here with defending people’s rights to access the courts, we thought this story worth sharing — a piece from today’s New York Times on Laurence H. Tribe and his role in Barack Obama‘s Justice department.

    Laurence H. Tribe is the Obama Administration's point man for expanding access to the courts

    Laurence H. Tribe is the Obama Administration's point man for expanding access to the courts

    Tribe is the Harvard law prof and Obama mentor who, as the story points out, could well have earned a Supreme Court nomination had he not been one of the key figures in rallying legal academic opposition to Ronald Reagan‘s naming of Robert Bork to the ┬áSupreme Court in 1987. There are still figurative guns loaded and ready in the Senate should Tribe ever be nominated for a post that requires Senate approval.

    But Obama has drawn him into the fold in a post that could have a significant impact on the poor seeking access to legal help as “senior counselor for access to justice.” And there is a driving need, according to this report from last year on the “justice gap.” Unfortunately, as the story reports, so far Tribe’s portfolio has been rather limted — though, to be fair, he’s only recently started.

    From the article:

    In that position, created especially for him, Mr. Tribe has been asked to suggest ways to improve legal services for the poor, find alternatives to court-intensive litigation and strengthen the fairness and independence of domestic courts. But Mr. Tribe has a small staff, a limited budget, little concrete authority and a portfolio far less sweeping than the one he told friends he had hoped to take on in Washington.

    Let’s hope Tribe picks up more power to effect some change. And that whatever changes might come, they respect people’s right to seek justice from the courts.

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